First, take a deep breath. Hiring a freelancer isn’t unlike the process of finding anyone else to solve a problem.
- You need a contractor, you check Angie’s List
- You need a rare Mickey Mouse Pez Dispenser, you check eBay
- You need a housecleaner, you check Yelp
- You need a new CFO, you check LinkedIn
- You need any and everything else, you check Amazon
But in all seriousness, hiring a writer isn’t that much different of a process…you just need to know where to look, how to look, and importantly, you need to have good reasons for looking in the first place.
In total, with this blog post, we will go through:
- What kind of writer do you actually need?
- What type of expertise do you need?
- Where can you find them?
- How to select a specific writer? (Can you trust them and their work?)
- How much should you pay them
- Reasons why you should hire a writer
What Kind of Writer Do You Need?
Listen, I’m not making fun of anyone here. You figure you need some type of copy written, so you’re going just find a writer to write it. Seems like a fair approach.
But, there are actually a ton of different types – and styles – of copywriters. Sure, one writer might be able to cover a handful of those types, but there are certainly writers who specialize in one specific type of writing.
For example, you might think you need something written for your website. That’s a good start, But, do you know if you need:
- Blog posts
- Product descriptions
- Land page copy
- Something else
See what I mean? Finding a “website writer” is one thing, but zeroing in and finding a writer to tackle one of the above areas is another.
In addition to the “content writer,” you might need someone to help with ad copy, like printed media, etc. Or, perhaps a sales writer to craft an email series? What about someone focused on SEO?
So, again, the first question you need to ask yourself is, what kind of writer do you need? Once you’ve asked yourself once, review the answer in your head, and ask it a second time in order to really pinpoint your needs.
What type of experience do you require?
This is a tricky one, with an answer that could go in any number of directions—but I’ll try my best.
The first thing to clear up is experience does not equal skill or ability. An experienced writer could be the best person for the job, or the worst. Just like a beginning writer could be perfect, if given the chance.
I’ll tell you this much. Plenty of beginners are finding online writing jobs without experience. They’re doing so because they are forced to put in the extra work to connect with the client; to understand their needs, and then, when they get the job, to do great work so they can get hired by that same client or someone different. They are “forced” to go this extra mile in order to survive.
It’s an important point, but with that said, there are certain types of writing that I would lean more on experience and past results:
- SEO-optimized blog posts or web copy
- Sales copy for conversions
- Email drip campaigns
These specialized types of writing due require a bit of experience and fine-tuning.
Same goes if you need writing for a particular industry with technical jargon, or even a specialized interest. For instance, it’s very difficult for anyone to “fake” being an involved baseball fan.
In the end, how seasoned a writer you need is definitely going to depend on your specific situation.
My suggestion is to not cut out all beginners, because even the best of the best had to start somewhere. Likewise, I also wouldn’t rush to award a job to someone with the best credentials. It’s really more of a “feel it out” thing. Look for the warning signs and trust your gut.
Where to hire a freelance writer
Go back to the above list that includes eBay, Amazon, etc. Think about the reasons why consumers visit such platforms.
If you need a rare collectible, sure, you could poke around garage sales and flea markets for hours, days, and weeks in search of one, but odds are you’re going to have a very difficult time coming across the item you’re seeking. I mean, it’s rare for a reason.
Thus, people go to eBay because of the volume of availability, and beyond that, the condensed easy-to-comb-through structure of such availability in order to find if their searched-for item is out there or not.
Then think about Yelp. Sure, I could do some Google searches and visit a number of websites for local housecleaners, but how do I figure out who I can trust, and who is just blowing smoke?
That’s why Yelp is so popular. Even with many shortcomings and complaints about their review system, people can gain at least a little sense of trust from it; and definitely put more of their faith in what others are saying about their experiences versus what the housecleaner – or writer, or anyone else – is saying themselves.
Given all of that, if you’re looking to hire a freelance writer, start with structure. Start with the websites built specifically for matching someone with needs, you, to freelance writers.
Start with Upwork, start with Fiverr (Disclosure: This is an affiliate link, which means if you follow it and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission; at no extra charge to you of course). They offer the volume of opportunity like eBay, and can help instill trust like your favorite review site. Their structure gives you the “help” you need in weeding through the many different freelancers out there in the world
Here some overall pros and cons of online freelance job platforms:
- A ton of writers to choose from
- A ton of writers consolidated in one place
- A ton of writers who specialize in different types of writing
- Means to view unbiased feedback of the writers you’re considering
- Means to easily view portfolios and writing samples
- Easy payment and safe-handing via escrow
- Means to dispute a freelancer’s work should things go south
- The vastness of the freelancer pool can be overwhelming if you don’t have a vision
- You need to take time to review the proposals that come in
- There are fees involved; sometimes for simply joining, and always for completed projects.
When looking at Upwork vs. Fiverr, specifically, I’ve already written a blog post on the differences between the two, but together, they are great resources to at least poke around and gather more info on, even if you end up striking out on your own to find a writer elsewhere.
How much should you pay?
Again, it depends on an assortment of different factors, most notably the type of writing, how much writing you need, the level of experience you’re seeking, and more.
It might not help more than simply give you a general idea, but here are some thoughts on what I would charge as a writer, and what I’ve seen others charge as freelance writers:
- 750-Word Blog Post: $50-$250
- One Email: $150-$200
- A Set of Five Web Pages: $350+
- One Press Release: $150-$350
- One-page PDF: $100-300
- eBook: $350+
Again, just some samples to give an idea. Prices vary drastically. My advice:
- Think about your budget
- Think about how straightforward or complex your request is
- Think about the turnaround time you’re requesting
The writer is always asking how much they should charge as a freelancer. So, they’ll have a number in mind. With a platform like Upwork, you state your budget range, and the freelancers send their proposed amounts. Thus, figuring out how much to charge is pretty easy. You can also do some research to see what other clients are charging for similar tasks.
With Fiverr, you have even more power, as you will be the one seeking out writers, and purchasing a “gig” from whoever you feel fits your situation best.
Word of warning, though. I don’t think you can get anything for $5 on Fiverr anymore, ironically.
Meaning, each writer is going to have a few different “package” levels, ranging from basic to premium. As you might have guessed, the “basic” level is going to be a stripped down, very straightforward purchase; like a 500-word blog post. The next level from there might be a 1,000-word blog post, and the premium level might be a 1,000+-word blog post, with SEO optimization, graphics, and more.
You can certainly scrape the bottom of the barrel and find something for $10, but the quality will probably match your spend, unfortunately.
How to Select a Specific Writer
One secondary benefit of narrowing down your search for a writer to a platform like Upwork or Fiverr is that you can really fine-tune the process of selecting a writer.
So, while many of these tips work in a general sense, no matter where you’re looking, they carry a lot more weight on a freelance exchange.
Be thorough in your wants and needs, but don’t overwhelm.
A first impression is a first impression. Meaning, it always matters; it’s so, so powerful. Thus, you need to make just as good of a first impression as one you’d expect from the freelance writer you’re looking to hire.
Just like a job interview—people say the interviewee is interviewing the employer just as much as they are getting interviewed themselves.
Same is true for you and the freelancer. Think about how you’re going to elicit the best response:
Is it by giving as little detail as possible, almost like it’s a top secret assignment? So then the freelancer needs to either ask a million questions, or, just run with their own understanding?
Or, is it by cramming loads and loads of specific needs down their throats, to the point of the writer really not being able to deviate or showcase why it is in fact they are the skilled writing professional?
As you might have guessed, neither approach is the one you want to take.
In summary, this first step of hiring a freelance writer is actually on you. You need to give a balanced run through of what it is you need them to do for you. At the very least, you need to provide:
- What do you need done; form, word count, etc.
- When do you need it completed?
- Any other special needs or caveats
Then, weed out the easy cuts.
Again, if you’re “interviewing” people one-by-one, such a mindset would help you move on quickly from duds. And then, if you’re wading through pools of freelancers on Upwork or Fiverr, this will of course help you.
Just as you would as an employer interviewing a job candidate, you need to approach hiring a freelancer with this specific thing in mind:
This is supposedly this person at their best; they’re interviewing to take your money, essentially, so they should be on their best behavior. If there is anything that hints at lack of interest, unpreparedness, rudeness, etc., you can expect there is more of that to come.
Such indicators would include:
- Someone not using your first name
- Spelling or grammar mistakes
- Asking questions you’ve already provided info for
- Not asking any questions at all
Don’t be afraid to trust your gut.
And, don’t settle.
A project that “must” get done and rushes forward with the wrong writer is still going to be a job that must get done, but now only a week down the road as you embark trying to find another writer to make up for the mistake you hired first.
Can you trust them?
Quick addition to the point above. One mistake people make when hiring freelance writers is stopping the “process” once they’ve settled on one specific writer.
Going back the point above, during the “interview” process, you’re getting the best from the freelancer (or should be). It’s not uncommon, then, for once you award them the job, for their true colors start to show through.
So, you must always be evaluating. Make sure to implement a system of drafts and feedback. I’d always suggest giving a writer at least two drafts to judge their performance.
Why should you hire a freelance writer?
This entire section is deserving of its own blog post, and I’ll get to that soon. For now…
In general, this can be summarized by asking and answering:
Why do you hire anyone to do anything?
- They’re simply better at it than you are
- You don’t have to time do the task
- You don’t want to do the task
- You have the budget, so why not?
The reasons to hire a freelancer follow many of those same points.
BUT, in addition, there is a whole lot more you’re probably not considering when it comes to the benefits of hiring a freelance writer.
- You don’t have the required writing skills to complete the job yourself
- You don’t have the time to write yourself
- You don’t want to write
- You have marketing budget, so why not?
- You want to scale
- You want to inject a different voice and tone
- You heard about the benefits of SEO
- You want to improve your conversions
- You want to better your email marketing
- You have customers who have problems
Now, are you ready and confident to hire a freelance writer?
I truly hope the above guidance has helped you in some way, shape, or form.
If not, what questions do you have? Where you stuck? I genuinely want to know so that I can help you, yes, but also the many others coming across this post who might be facing the same issues.
Either way, best of luck! Don’t hesitate to let me know what has or has not worked for you via the comments below.